Thursday, June 16, 2016 New Rules for ACOs Aim to Encourage Participation Accountable care organizations (ACOs) participating the Medicare Shared Savings Program (MSSP) will begin operating under some new rules designed to incentivize participation in the program while continuing the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid's (CMS) evolution toward value-based payment. Under the new rule, ACOs that sign up for a second or subsequent contract period will be subject to a benchmarking process based on regional rather than national spending data—a move aimed at acknowledging the fact that health care costs aren't the same across the country. Also, so-called Track 1 ACOs (which share in savings but are not responsible for losses) that are approved for renewal will be allowed more time to transition to a risk-based Track 2 or 3 model by way of a 1-year deferment. The rule also sets up a 4-year window for appeals and reopenings of reviews of savings or losses—the first time CMS has offered specifics on the process. APTA has developed summary of the rule and offers a webpage dedicated to ACOs. Also, the APTA Learning Center includes a recorded webinar on ACOs and the role of physical therapists. "Today's changes will encourage more physicians to improve patient care by joining [ACOs], while also refining how the program measures success, so that current participants are better rewarded for quality," said CMS Acting Administrator Andy Slavitt in a news release. The rule will be implemented in phases beginning January 1, 2017.